January 27, 2023

What Happens If You Have An Accident In A Rental Car UK

What Happens If You Have An Accident In A Rental Car UK

The number of British road users taking advantage of rental car services is increasing year-on-year. But if you have a car rental accident, who is liable in the UK? We provide the answer in this article. 

It’s should hardly come as a surprise to learn that rental cars are becoming more popular. The average cost of a brand-new hatchback car in the UK is almost £22,000. 

If you want a MUV or SUV you can expect to pay upwards of £28,331. Together with the rising fuel costs for traditional petrol and diesel engines, UK drivers are turning their attention to car rentals. 

Car rental companies in the UK provide road users with brand-new cars on short-term leases or annual contracts. Drivers can pay for the car in convenient and affordable monthly installments which includes insurance. 

The question most drivers have, however, is who is liable for damages if you have a road traffic accident in a rental car?

In this article, we take a look at the current liability law for UK drivers when they rent a car and explain what you should look for when buying car rental insurance. 

handing car keys over to customer

Rental Car Accident? Who is Liable in the UK?  

Most car agreements protect car hire firms in the event their lease vehicle is involved in a road traffic accident in the UK. If you have a rental car accident in the UK, the driver at fault for the accident is liable.

In the United Kingdom, drivers that rent a car must be covered by unlimited Third Party Liability Insurance. Most rental companies include the cost of the insurance in a pre-paid package. However, drivers are free to choose their own insurance if they can find a better deal. And you usually can! 

However, if you are using the insurance that comes with the car rental, you will need to contact your lease company so they can inform the insurance company to start the claims process. 

Before you agree to a car rental accident liability insurance, check the conditions - otherwise you may not be fully covered and/or end up paying for costs you hadn’t bargained for. 

Car lease agreements will also state whether you have to continue paying the rental costs whilst the car is in for repair. It will also confirm whether you are entitled to a replacement vehicle at no extra cost. 

car repair and maintenance

Rental Car After Accident? Who Pays Damages?

If you rent a car on a short-term lease or annual lease, the insurance terms are typically built-in to the car rental agreement including the cost of the insurance premium.

It’s important to understand what your car insurance covers. Most car rental agreements in the UK include Collision Damage Waiver (CDW), Theft Protection and Third-Party Liability cover. However, it should be understood that the CDW only means the company is waiving their right to make you pay for repairs to the bodywork in full. You will still have to pay the excess. 

The excess is the amount you will be obligated to “contribute” towards the cost of repairing or replacing the vehicle in the event that it is totalled or stolen. 

The amount of excess differs hugely and largely depends on the type of vehicle you rent and the length of time you are leasing it. You should expect the excess to be at least £500 but they can go up to around £3000. 

Bettersafe offers car hire excess insurance up to £7500 which means you will not be left out of pocket if you have a car rental accident in the UK.